Tahajjud: its excellence and benefits

Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam said: “The best month for observing fast after Ramadhan is muharram, and the best salah after the prescribed salah is salah at night”

As servants of Allah, we should be always seeking ways of getting closer our Lord, and Islam teaches us that one of the easiest ways in which we can ignite a connection with Allah and grow closer to Him, is through the night prayer. When is the last time any of us left our beds for the sake of Allah, and stood in the depths of the night to pray? Last Ramadhan? Before an exam? Maybe there hasn’t even been a first time, and yet it is a beautiful act of worship with a huge amount of reward.

Salah, in general, is one of the most important actions a servant must perform in our religion, we know, it is the second pillar of Islam after the shahada (testimony), and this highlights its significance. Tahajjud is one of the supererogatory prayers we are constantly advised to perform, it is one of those actions that, when performed, enables us to become amongst the individuals mentioned in this beautiful qudsi hadith: Narrated on the authority of Abu Dhar: Allah’s Messenger said that Allah said: “He who comes with a good deed, its reward will be ten like that or even more. And he who comes with vice, his reward will be only one like that, or I can forgive him. He who draws close to Me a hand’s span, I will draw close to him an arm’s length. And whoever draws near Me an arm’s length, I will draw near him a fathom’s length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running. And whoever faces Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, I will meet him with forgiveness nearly as great as that, provided he does not worship something with me.” [Muslim]

This act is a beautiful deed which Allah swt loves. Just imagine, during the night when the world has settled and people are caught up in their sleep, you arise and begin to pray, you’re one of the very few servants of Allah who do this. Calmness and serenity settles within you because you are alone with Allah, you worship Him, remember Him, make dua to Him. Due to the night’s calm atmosphere and silence, you genuinely feel a sense of comfort. The Prophet (sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?”. What an incredible hadith subhanAllah! It is sad to think that so many of us miss this amazing opportunity because we choose sleep over prayer, and contrary to what Muslims believe, this act of worship is not tiring or difficult in anyway, in fact once it becomes a habit, it will be something you will find difficult to live without.

Praying tahajud is also one of the most excellent ways of manifesting your gratitude towards Allah swt and the uncountable blessings He has bestowed in your life. One of the best hadith that illustrates this is the one that follows: Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) kept standing (in prayer) so long that the skin of his feet would crack. I asked him: “Why do you do this, while you have been forgiven of your former and latter sins?” He said, “Should I not be a grateful slave of Allah?” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] This hadith teaches us so much, the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam, despite not possessing much, acknowledged the blessings of Allah swt upon Him, and stood in prayer until his skin got affected to show his gratitude to His lord, what excuse do we have? Our blessings are so much that it is impossible to count them,  “If you were to count Allah’s favors, you would not be able to number them; most surely humanity is very unjust, very ungrateful.” [Sūrah Ibrāhīm: 34] this verse should soften our hearts, and make us feel ashamed when we compare our ungrateful attitude towards Allah’s generosity towards us. Even though it would realistically impossible to thank Allah for all His blessings, let us implement the action of the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam, and pray tahajud as way of showing some gratitude towards Allah.

Salah: The Reminder of the Muslims

It’s no secret that we live in the 21st century. We now live in a demanding world where we have smartphones buzzing every couple of minutes as we run to school or to our jobs, we are extremely busy with distractions popping up every single second of our day. In today’s society, it’s extremely easy to get caught up in the moment and forget our purpose or the fact that life is short, slipping away and that this dunya’a, this world, is a mere test, a blip of our existence, a mere blink of an eye.

Allah, Exalted is He, says in the Quran: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” Adh-Dhaariyat (51):56

As Muslims, we’re well aware that our purpose in life is to worship and please Allah, Exalted is He. We also know that the second pillar of Islam is Prayer, an obligation on us five times a day. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Muslims who hold the thought that Salah is a burden, that it is something for Allah and not for us and that we don’t need it. However, the fact is that this mentality is completely twisted, because the truth is that your worship is not a gift to Allah but rather, it is a gift from Allah to you.

Allah says in the Quran: “…Allah is free of need, while you are the needy…” Muhammad (47):38

For some, the average Muslim, it can be hard to wrap your mind around this concept. How is it a gift to us? That question is one with a lofty explanation. I could write hundreds of pages on how exactly Salah benefits us. However, I want to touch on one specific concept, the very tip of the iceberg.

As I stated before, we live in the buzz of the 21st century, but our purpose is still to worship and please Allah, Exalted is He, and the fact is, that this dunya’a is still a test. So, this begs the question: how does praying five times a day help us, in our busy lives, to fulfill our purpose?

The key to this answer is that one of the reasons why salah is required, is because it is a reminder.  A reminder to the Muslims to wake up, take a step back from all the bling and distractions this world has to throw at us. It is a time to reevaluate our position on where we stand with Allah, and how exactly we plan to fulfill our purpose.

To be honest, it grieves me to hear that the average Muslim feels that they have no time for Salah and that they feel it is a burden. Because let’s be real, for the average Muslim, Salah takes about 30 minutes out of our day, divided by five, that’s five minutes at different times a day, out of the 1,440 minutes that our 24 hours hold. With those five minutes, at different times of the day, it’s our reminder that yes, even though we are busy we can’t allow ourselves to be so caught up in this dunya’a that we become too busy for our Creator and forget the eternity that we’re all striving, hoping and praying for.

However, not only is Salah a reminder, but it’s also an open opportunity where Allah is asking you to turn to Him and relieve all your hardship and sorrows and ask for anything you desire. It’s your one-on-one conversation with Allah, the All Knowing, The Most Forgiving.

Allah says in the Quran: “And your Lord says: Call upon Me; I will respond to you…” 49:60

As I’ve mentioned, this small fact about Salah is just the tip of the iceberg. It doesn’t even begin to cover the hundreds of gems within Salah. However, what I really hope and pray to Allah, Exalted is He, for the Muslims who do have a hard time getting up to pray and find themselves missing Salah, that this will help you realize that it really and truly is a gift from Allah, Exalted is He, to you and not the other way around. Take advantage of this gift, of this reminder, and make a conscious effort to take just 5 minutes out of each part of your day to take a breather and return to your Lord, reassess your situation and reset your intentions.

Realize that Allah has created us as imperfect beings so He does not expect perfection from us. However, He does expect us to try our best and when we slip to turn back to Him. For Allah said in the Quran: “Surely Allah loves those who turn unto him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” 2:222.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, also said: “Every son of Adam is a sinner, and the best of sinners are those who repent.” At-tirmidhi.